Chia is healthy, tasty, filling and easy to make. Originally from Mexico, this new-world superfood was outlawed by Spanish conquistadors because of its close associations with Aztec and Mayan livelihood– their warriors and messengers ate it for strength and endurance. Fortunately, the health benefits of Chia Seed are being rediscovered. This article discusses the health benefits and dangers of Chia Seed, as well as ideas for adding this superfood to your diet.
Health Benefits of Chia Seed
Chia Seed is a natural energy booster, and can provide a quick pick-me-up without the negative effects of sugar or caffeine. Chia is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acid, an essential nutrient that affects brain health, mental performance, heart health and circulation. Chia Seed is high in protein and contains high enough antioxidants levels to rival other superfoods such as blueberries and flax. Chia also contains a number of other important nutrients, including fiber, iron and magnesium, and is said to help aid your body’s absorption of calcium. A small amount of Chia is surprisingly filling, so Chia may be a good choice for anyone looking to lose weight.
Health Dangers of Chia Seed
Chia Seed contains Vitamin B-17, which is not dangerous in itself, but if you are taking B-17 supplements (perhaps as alternative cancer therapy or prevention) then adding Chia Seed to your diet could cause excess levels of B-17, resulting in toxic effects such as a sudden drop in blood pressure. Since Chia Seed is known to lower blood pressure, anyone with low blood pressure should avoid eating Chia except in very small amounts. Anyone taking blood thinners or anti-coagulants should also avoid Chia Seeds. Allergies to Chia Seed are rare, but possible, and may cause swelling, itching or rash. The health benefits of Chia Seed cannot make up for an unhealthy diet or lifestyle. Adding superfoods to your diet should be part of a holistic approach to bettering your health that includes balanced nutrition, reasonable exercise and stress management.
Ideas for Adding Chia Seed to Your Diet
Adding Chia Seeds to your diet can be easy and tasty. Chia Seed is gluten-free and requires no cooking. You can eat Chia raw, soak it to form a gel or grind it to create a powder. To soak, use one part Chia to two parts water, and soak for 10 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Below are some ideas for adding Chia to your diet.
*Sprinkle Chia seeds (raw or soaked) on your breakfast cereal.
*Create Chia cereal by soaking Chia Seeds in hot water, then adding fruit or nuts.
*Add soaked Chia to muffin mix.
*Mix raw Chia into salad dressing.
*Add soaked Chia to pudding or yogurt (it will have a tapioca-like texture).
*Grind Chia, and add the powder to soup mix.
*Grind Chia, and add the powder to smoothie mix.
*Make Chia granola or trail mix by mixing Chia with other nuts, seeds and whole grains.
Ask Dr. Weil; What is Chia?; 2006
Awesome to be Rawsome; Ch-Ch-Ch Chia!; 2009
eHow.com; Chia Seed Dangers; Karen Malzeke-McDonald; 2010
Natural News; The Chia ‘Cheat Sheet’ and Ten Raw Chia Recipes; Angela Stokes; 2008
University of Maryland Medical Center; Medical Reference; Omega-3 Fatty Acids
What’s Cooking America; The Ancient Chia Seed- How it Can Benefit Your Health; Charlotte Bradley